Skip to main content

Developing the Next Generation of Skilled Trades Workers

Increasingly, Canadian employers are facing a shortage of skilled workers. In fact, it’s likely your own family may have experienced this firsthand or at least heard of the looming skills shortage. A recent report by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development indicated that 31% of Canadian employers will be affected. A much higher percentage of young Canadians looking for meaningful careers are also affected. Finding skilled workers for our critical trades jobs has already become a significant economic issue across Canada.

In response to this report, Kevin G. Lynch, Vice-Chair of the BMO Financial Group, stated, “[we] have to do a better job at developing skilled trades in Canada if we are to strengthen the competitiveness of our manufacturing and resource sectors.” The question, though, is how?

One Canadian company working to provide a solution is Babcock Canada.

For the past eight years, Canadians have come to know Babcock Canada as a trusted partner delivering critical in-support service for the Royal Canadian Navy. However, what may not be known is their demonstrated success leveraging over 125 years of naval ISS expertise and a global network of 34,000 specialists to provide trades training across six continents. These years of experience and development of innovative best practices are a valuable part of the Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) based trades training made available to Canada’s youth.

The success of STEM-based trades training programs is a result of a collaborative, proactive, and supportive approach. To this end, Babcock Canada has been working in tandem with passionate organizations such as:

  • Applied Science Technologists & Technicians of BC
  • BC Association of Institutes and Universities
  • Camosun College
  • Centre for Aboriginal Human Resource Development Inc. (CAHRD)
  • Colleges and Institutes Canada
  • Industry Trades Authority
  • Institute for Ocean Research Enterprise (Dalhousie University)
  • Manitoba Institute of Trades & Technology
  • Neeginan College of Applied Technology
  • Saskatchewan Centre for Intelligent Systems
  • Victoria Island University
  • And many more

No Canadian community is in greater need for trades training than our Indigenous youth. Babcock Canada and their partners have developed a number of key strategic relationships with the goal of providing long-term, sustainable training for our Indigenous communities. One of the key challenges has been making this training accessible to remote communities without requiring students to leave their homes and support networks. To remove this barrier, these partners have utilized E-Learning techniques and created satellite learning locations, as well as a purpose-built training facility, which has given Indigenous youth a real opportunity to train in a trade without having to relocate from their community.

For example: with the Centre for Aboriginal Human Resource Development Inc. (CAHRD) and Neeginan College of Applied Technology (NCAT), partners are working with the Canada Jobs Fund Grant to retrain existing students for work in Manitoba’s aerospace sector.

Acknowledging the need for pre-apprenticeship trades training among Canada’s Indigenous peoples, Navdeep Bains, Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development, said, “Indigenous peoples represent the fastest-growing segment of the Canadian population and are an important part of Canada’s economic prosperity.” On April 25th, he committed a sizable investment on behalf of the Government of Canada to ensure more Indigenous adult learners have access to the skills and knowledge required to secure a career of choice in the trades.

The need for supporting trades training, cooperative education, and skills-based education is truly a Canada-wide issue. Recently, the Ontario Government committed to funding 140 skills-based apprenticeships in electrical work and other services at Algonquin College. That’s 140 more skilled tradespeople that will be ready for work in a labour-challenged economy.

Paul Dunn, Babcock Canada’s Director, Business Development, Training, Simulation & Services, recognizes that although they are experts in naval ISS work, the value of their investments ripples across the entire nation.

“Babcock Canada is creating new jobs and promoting supplier development initiatives throughout the supply chain, supporting small and medium sized enterprises, as well as coastal communities on all three of Canada’s seaboards. We are committed to supporting a sustainable and growing marine industry on every Canadian coastline to provide the jobs that these young apprentices will require to maintain and develop their skillset.”

Just as the Royal Canadian Navy continues to rely on the equipment and technology that Babcock Canada Specialists support, suppliers will rely on the next generation of Canadian skilled tradespeople. As Canada’s marine and defence industry grow, so too will the need for skilled workers. One cannot thrive without the support of the other.